Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Rodney and the Purple Martins

I called Rodney Yoder today, because I wanted him to know that I may get a chance soon to cross-examine an old nemesis whom he knows especially well. Dan Cuneo was one of the three hired guns on whom the state probably spent (we speculated at the time) hundreds of thousands of dollars, to keep Rodney locked up at Chester Mental Health Center for as long as they possibly could. 

The trial at which Cuneo testified is the subject of a movie screenplay which features courtroom scenes and dialogue taken directly from official transcripts. Here's one sample:

    State's Attorney Williamson: Dr. Cuneo, do you have any opinion whether Mr. Yoder's mental illness is treatable in the community? 

    Cuneo: His mental illness can't be treated at all. He needs treatment but he refuses it, and the only chance of ever getting him any treatment is at Chester Mental Health Center. That's also the only place that can provide security. Mr. Yoder would be a very dangerous ticking time bomb in the community. He would be a volcano waiting to erupt. At Chester he can't get a machine gun to kill 400 people, but it's what he wants and dreams of doing.

    Yoder's counsel, on cross: Dr. Cuneo, how do you know what Mr. Yoder's dreams are?

    Cuneo (after an awkward pause of perhaps thirty seconds): I'm not sure I understand the question.

    Yoder's counsel: Did he tell you he wants to kill 400 people with a machine gun, or did you just make that up?

    Cuneo (after another awkward long pause): No.

    Yoder's counsel: No what? He didn't tell you that, or you didn't make it up?

    Cuneo: No, he did not tell me that.

    Yoder's counsel: Oh, I see! So you did just make it up... or are you a mind reader?

Keep in mind that this character, Daniel J. Cuneo, Ph.D., was a retained expert, allowed to give an opinion at this trial only because his opinion would help the jury understand facts that laypeople might not know how to interpret. His "expertise" was very much in the same category as that of all the overseers at the Elgin plantation, who pretend they have medical knowledge and treatments to help people, when in fact they only know how to drug them, and dehumanize them, and make them available as sex slaves, and invent threats that don't exist to extort money from the taxpayers! 

Rodney Yoder, however, is a gentle and intelligent soul. He was manumitted (or maybe I should say he finally escaped from the plantation) going on two decades ago, and contrary to Dan Cuneo's dark hallucinations, contrary to the State's high-priced defamatory nonsense, he has never once taken up a machine gun to kill 400 people. 

Rodney lives very simply, only a few miles away from Dan Cuneo, in fact. He pays his taxes, obeys the law and fixes things. He has visited me at my suburban home, and even come to neighborhood parties. People find him interesting and pleasant. They find it quite discreditable that the state once used their taxes, to the tune of $1000 per day for thirteen years, to keep Rodney locked up in Chester! 

He has a Purple Martin house which he built himself, and he told me today that his Martins had just arrived on their northward spring migration from the Amazon in Brazil. When I was a kid, my father also built a Martin house in our yard in Michigan. Rodney knows a lot about Purple Martins, and he reminded me of many things my parents had told me about them. They are beautiful birds. They mate for life. They come back every year, all those thousand of miles, to the same exact place. They eat and drink on the fly, and they fly higher in the sky that almost any birds. They make a lot of noise.

Rodney said he hears his Martins every spring before he sees them. They are the same birds every year, the same individuals, the same mated pairs, who always return. And they know Rodney, they see if he has lost weight or gotten gray, and they're glad he's free, too.

It's almost impossible to imagine that Dan Cuneo could ever have Purple Martins!

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